Ireland’s second-largest telecoms operator BT has won a €44m contract to build and manage an expansion of 3 Ireland’s broadband network with backhaul that will support 7.2Mbps, rising to 14.4Mbps by 2009 and even beyond to 16Mbps.
BT’s network will provide 3 with the fibre optic capability and resilience to support 14.4Mbps technology in the short-term, and the knowledge that BT will be ready to deliver up to 16Mbps when required, meeting the needs of the operator’s long-term roadmap.
Following on from a €100m contract in 2003- when BT was chosen to build the operator’s 3G access network – the new network expands the agreement. In addition to supporting faster speeds, BT Ireland will provide full operation and maintenance services. Field engineering staff will be on call to fix any faults on 3’s national infrastructure.
BT will also extend the number of 3 cell sites to 770 in Ireland. When the operator builds out its network, BT is charged with full project management duties, from radio planning that ensures new sites meet the technical criteria for optimum coverage, to securing the physical location and dealing with any planning issues or shared site agreements that may arise.
With all the planning paperwork in place, BT will project manage the subcontractors during site construction.
3 Ireland’s managing director, Robert Finnegan, said that some 70,000 people in Ireland now use 3’s mobile broadband product.
“3 has made great inroads in the broadband market through constant innovation on price and deploying the best mobile technologies. As the leading provider in the Irish mobile broadband market, with more customers using 3’s network than any other, we’re delighted to be driving Ireland up the broadband league tables. This new agreement with BT will help us progress even further,” said Finnegan.
The key piece of the contract is the provision of managed bandwidth transmission services, whereby BT links by microwave to 3’s transmission sites around the country, then backhauls all the traffic over BT’s fibre optic network to 3’s Irish data centre.
“It is an end-to-end service that demonstrates the capability of BT,” commented Chris Clark. “We are delighted to be central to the plans of a Tier 1, 3G operator at such an exciting time in mobile communications.”
By John Kennedy